TAMPA — Coach Dirk Koetter spent a lot of time before this year's draft evaluating RB Dalvin Cook. At one time, the Florida State star and former teammate of QB Jameis Winston was considered the player the Bucs most likely would draft 19th overall.
"He's a really good back," Koetter said. "He can run with power. He can run with speed. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he's demonstrated all that the first two weeks of the season. He's a really good football player."
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith paid Cook a higher compliment.
"We consider him a game-wrecker," Smith said Wednesday.
The Bucs wound up taking Alabama TE O.J. Howard when he unexpectedly fell to them in the first round. Howard was one of the cleanest players in the draft in terms of his production and character. Cook lasted until the ninth pick in the second round, taken by the Vikings; his fall most likely was due to off-field concerns.
But Cook has quickly proven to be an early rookie of the year candidate. In his first game, Cook broke Adrian Peterson's record for the most rushing yards by a rookie in his debut when he gained 127 yards (105 of them in the second half) in a 29-19 win over the Saints.
Sunday, Cook disappeared from the offense in the first half but rushed for 61 of his 64 yards after intermission. The Vikings, playing without starting QB Sam Bradford, lost 26-9 to the Steelers.
Cook is third in the NFL in rushing with 191 yards on 34 carries (5.6-yard average), and his average 95.5 yards per game ranks fourth.
"First of all, Dalvin has been a great kid since he's come in here," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "Every week he does something. He shows great speed and acceleration. I think he continues to get better each week. We're extremely happy and pleased with his progress so far."
Raise the roof
The Bucs' indoor practice facility still is under construction. There is no air conditioning. Some walls are open, and the turf field is not fully installed. But it has a roof to shield the sun, and the Bucs took advantage of that Wednesday.
For the first time, they held their walk-through indoors to escape the heat for about a half-hour.
"It was fine," coach Dirk Koetter said. "It was nice to get in there. It's not done yet, but it was good to get us out of the heat for those 30 or 40 minutes. (The facility is) going to be awesome."
The Bucs had hoped the facility would be completed this month, but that doesn't appear to be happening. Once it is fully operational, the Bucs will use it for all their walk-throughs and some practices to escape the heat or inclement weather.
DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) and LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. DT Chris Baker and DE Jacquies Smith were out with an illness. CB Brent Grimes (shoulder) was limited. LB Devante Bond (knee) had full participation.
"We have a little flu bug going through our team," Koetter said. "We had a couple guys out (Wednesday) with the flu as well. It is going around. We're taking every precaution we can. But it's like everything else. You've just got to deal with it."